Tue, 19 Oct 2021

Chinese Language Week kicks off in New Zealand

27 Sep 2021, 23:44 GMT+10

WELLINGTON, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- The opening reception of New Zealand Chinese Language Week was held on Monday evening at the Beehive, the Executive Wing of the parliamentary complex in Wellington.

From Sunday to Saturday, New Zealand will host a variety of colorful activities such as learning Chinese language and Chinese Kungfu, enjoying Chinese folk music, experiencing Chinese cuisine, Chinese calligraphy workshops, and Chinese lion dance performances.

Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand Wu Xi extended her congratulations to the event. She said the Chinese Language Week is increasingly becoming an important platform and brand for China-New Zealand people-to-people exchanges, helping more New Zealanders to better understand China and Chinese culture.

"Understanding is the foundation of friendship, and language is the bridge of communication. People-to-people exchanges have always been an indispensable part in China-New Zealand bilateral relations, and studying each other's language plays an important role in our interactions."

"A more open and prosperous China will definitely create new opportunities for the whole world including New Zealand," Wu said.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Trevor Mallard, together with New Zealand Chinese Language Week Trust Chair Jo Coughlan, presented 2021 Youth Ambassadors and Chinese Superstars with honorary certificates. He said China-New Zealand exchanges have a deep history of two centuries.

The theme of this year's Chinese week is "food and hospitality," which displayed the common values of the two countries.

Former New Zealand Ambassador to China and Chairman of the Council of the Confucius Institute at Victoria University of Wellington Tony Browne said the Chinese have become an important part of the New Zealand community.

Browne said the pandemic has affected Chinese teaching in New Zealand because Chinese teaching assistants were unable to come to New Zealand due to the border restriction. He hoped these Chinese Superstars would do something in community to offset these negative impacts.

Wendell Cooke, who started learning Chinese in 1994, was one of this year's Chinese Superstars. "I had just arrived back in NZ after completing a student exchange to Brazil, and having learned Portuguese (I) really felt I wanted to try an Asian language. I didn't know much about China at the time but it seemed really interesting, so pretty much on this basis began my Mandarin journey."

"The most rewarding aspect is being able to communicate with older Chinese people who haven't learned English. It just opens up another world to be able to communicate with people who have lived really different lives. Also finding out about different aspects of Chinese culture and being able to speak with practitioners of different arts is really rewarding."

The Chinese Language Week started in 2014. It is another language week held in New Zealand after Maori Language Week and Pacific Island Language Week, and the first national "Chinese Language Week" initiated and established by the people of Western countries.

According to statistics from the New Zealand Ministry of Education, the number of primary and secondary school students in New Zealand learning Chinese was nearly 70,000 before the epidemic, with more than 400 primary and secondary schools offering Chinese courses.

Chinese has become the primary foreign language of choice for primary school students in New Zealand.

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